It probably does not come as a surprise to anyone any more that Ashley and I find ourselves randomly traveling to odd places on very short notice. I suppose most pilots can say that, we just try to make the most out of any adventure we embark on. Without a conscious thought, we say “yes” if travel is involved.

After a great time in Mesa Verde, we booked it back to Texas. We drove through the night. Our only stop was for gas and a quick break for a 2-hour nap at a rest station in eastern New Mexico. Following all traffic laws, we made it home in record time… scratch that, we made it 10 miles from home in record time. Ashley’s mom had graciously loaned us her SUV for the trip, a car we were not extensively familiar with. More specifically, in my car and in Ashley’s car when the gas tank indicator reaches “0” we still are able to drive about 20 miles to the nearest gas station. In her mom’s car, this is not the case. When it reaches “0,” it really means the tank is empty. This, we found out, 2.5 miles from the nearest gas station. Luckily I had my emergency gas can in the back for instances just like this, “whew!” Nope. I remember now, I forgot to fill that up this trip. All I had was a big red plastic can wasting space in the trunk. Awesome.

All I have to say to the 500-800 drivers (including 3 State Troopers) that passed us stranded on the side of Highway 45, “Karma is a kind teacher, just wait.” That is correct, three Texas State Troopers passed us and did not stop to help; so much for Texas being the friendliest state. Luckily, Ashley has a very kind father who graciously brought us a big red plastic bucket that was full of petrol.

We had 18 hours to unpack, do laundry, pack again and off to the airport we went for our 5 a.m. flight to New York.

We arrived at Newark about 1 p.m. and caught the bus to Grand Central. A good friend of my mom’s lives just north of Manhattan and she was very kind to let Ashley and I crash at her beautiful home a few days while we visited NYC. After dropping our bags off at the house, we headed right back to the city for a night out on the town. First, we headed to central park for an excellent Italian dinner at Basso56. I highly recommend this place. We ended up becoming quite good friends with the general manager, bar tender and server (who was from Ukraine). They found Ashley’s time studying abroad in Florence quite compelling. In addition, I found our servers take on her countries uprising fascinating. Overall, Basso56 is great. Italian’s just know how to enjoy life a little better than the rest of us I suppose!

After dinner we headed south along Broadway past CBS’s David Letterman’s Studio to Times Square. Times Square is synonymous with sensory overload. There are tall buildings all around, TV screens in every direction, and people galore. It is fantastic. It was hard to imagine we were, just 24 hours earlier, in Mesa Verde without a soul in any direction we looked. However, a complete contrast to Mesa Verde, being in the thick of Manhattan was just as much fun!

Next, we headed northeast to Rockefeller Center. When I was a kid I had gone to the top of the Empire State Building and remember it was underwhelming. Chris, our host for the week, had recommended the “Top of the Rock” as a better skyline view. The neat thing about the Top of the Rock is they allow you to purchase a “Sun and Stars” pass, which allows visitors to visit twice in a 24-hour period. We decided to see the skyline at night first then go during sunset the next evening. The views from the top of the GE building are fantastic (as you can see in the photos below). Seeing the skyline at night is also a unique experience, however we could have done without the 50 kt winds from the approaching cold front. It was quite chilly! The part I found most fascinating was that the viewing floors are actually the top of the building. Often the viewing floor is near the top but not actually the top floor. The “Top of the Rock” is actually the top, the top three floors to be exact.

After spending a few hours in awe of the spectacular views, we headed down and spent the rest of the evening enjoying the nightlife in the “city that never sleeps.”

More from our trip in tomorrow’s post, stay tuned!

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